Troubling A Star
By Madeleine L'Engle
Bantam Doubleday 1994
From my to-read shelf
Vicky Austin is feeling restless after returning to Connecticut from New York City. She wishes she could spend time with her friend Adam in the hopes that something more will develop, but Adam is on his way to a once in a lifetime internship. Instead, Vicky becomes close to Adam's Aunt Serena who makes her feel like one of the family. When Aunt Serena offers to send Vicky to Antarctica to have an amazing experience and meet up with Adam, she can't refuse. As Vicky prepares to leave, she receives threatening notes in her locker at school and becomes increasingly uncomfortable about how Serena's son died on a similar expedition. Vicky's trip will put her in danger beyond her imagination and show her amazing marvels that she will never forget.
Madeleine L'Engle is one of my favorite writers ever. Excuse me while I gush about her and her writing for a bit. Troubling A Star is what would be called YA literature today. Our protagonist, Vicky, is a high school student with normal problems but very unusual circumstances. She is a sister who feels intimidated by her younger sibling, who seems to have more ease with math, science, and social events. She is a girl hoping that a boy will see her as more than a friend. She is a student as interested in biology as she is Shakespeare and poetry. Vicky is a great everygirl protagonist.
There is so much happening in this small novel. It's a love story, a coming of age story, a mystery, and a thriller about the intersection of politics and science. Every time I read L'Engle, I appreciate the way she respects her readers. She is writing for teens and believes that they, like Vicky, will care about the effect that politics have on the Antarctic and its inhabitants. L'Engle writes characters who are smart and care about their families and friends. Best of all, she writes characters who are not defined by their romances.
I love Madeleine L'Engle and while this is not my favorite of her novels, I enjoyed reading every page. This is the way I wish authors would write YA fiction today. The mystery is tense and surprising and there are interesting characters on every page. This is not a story about a romance, it is Vicky's story about the ways that she grows and changes because of her experiences. If you've never read L'Engle, pick up one of her books today. She is a writer you don't want to miss.